In parts of North America during the autumn harvest period, people practice thankfulness for blessings. In close relationships, expressing loving appreciation to each other for positive actions is part of what contributes to happiness.

In my book Creating Excellent Relationships: The Power of Character Choices, I define “thankfulness” as “expressing warm, genuine feelings of praise, appreciation, and gratitude for such aspects of life as loved ones, blessings, benefits, lessons learned, challenges that prompt growth, and warm gestures.”

Some of the ways to practice thankfulness (from the same book), include when someone:

  •  Appreciates or celebrates what is good or beneficial in his/her life and in himself/herself
  •  Appreciates all that is good about other people, especially those closest to him/her
  • Accepts and learns from the difficulties he/she experiences, appreciating that they help with developing character and strengthening faith
  • Focuses on the positive aspects of his/her life and the world around him/her, appreciating the beauty or bounty around him/her; such as, nature, art, music, food, people, money, spirituality…
  • Expresses gratitude to God, from the spiritual promptings of a radiant heart and soul, for the grace and blessings in his/her life
  • Shares with others how much he/she appreciates who they are and what they do
  • Notices and rejoices in the abundance of good in the world

A good friend of mine, Deb Cunningham, once wrote a wonderful essay about love in which she included a reflection on God’s love for us and the abundance we have to be grateful for. I’m including an excerpt here for your enjoyment (and the matching photo I took recently along a highway in Tennessee):

 “So since God can do whatever He wants, he made us and put us here. But He didn’t give us the economy model! He didn’t go for the minimalist approach! He didn’t say that’s good enough for them, they’ll never know the difference. He didn’t give us just the bare necessities or scrimp on anything, or say light, air, water, food, fire, that’s enough of that, they can grow and learn and struggle and make a mess of their lives in a plain white world… He gave us colors. Infinite order and beauty in each particle of the universe. Green velvet moss on gray rock, sweet soft smells and tastes, sun on our faces, light through the trees, the soft green haze just before spring bursts. He gave us FLOWERS. Not just one, but thousands of different flowers, delicate flowers that need care to grow, and stubborn flowers that push their way up through rock and cluster in vacant lots and along the highway, sharing themselves no matter what we do to them. He made them smell good, and look good, and sometimes taste good, or even heal us. So far beyond what He had to do. Every part of the earth made with exacting care, each a part of His gift.

“Think about the sky. A twenty-four non-stop open all night never the same twice blockbuster show—just there for us. Here humans, have a sunrise! I’ll show you blue, and how about some clouds, they come in every size and shape! Here’s sunset for you! And just when you think the show must be over, I’ll give you a moon and stars (change them daily, move ‘em around even minute by minute…) And comets and planets just to keep you busy figuring this one out. Could any of us ever, even all combined, have done anything to DESERVE a rainbow? Northern lights? The Grand Canyon? He gave us so much more than we need. Lavished love everywhere with a bounty we can’t begin to conceive. Decorated with radiant love every part of the earth…and then just gave it to us.” (1989)

Love grows as you practice looking for and expressing appreciation for the positive qualities in your relationship partner, spouse, or other family members. What do you have to be thankful for today?


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